Stress and anxiety levels are rising due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and the economic impact of the extended lockdown.

People are understandably worried about their and their family’s health and their livelihoods. One of the many ways you can help to reign in spiralling stress levels is with high quality, compliant cannabidiol (CBD) products.

A legal, natural product

CBD is a naturally-occurring, active non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis or hemp plant’s resinous flower.

Many people may have reservations about using these products because hemp is a close relative to marijuana. But commercially-available CBD products are not illegal, and they don’t cause a “high”.

To comply with local regulations, all CBD products in South Africa must contain less than 0,001% of the active compound in marijuana that delivers its high, known as THC.

And all products that contain a maximum daily dose of 20mg of CBD and are intended for general health enhancement or maintenance, or relief from minor symptoms not related to a disease or disorder, are exempt from scheduling.

Managing stress

We all experience and process stress in different ways. And while everyone is feeling stressed during this time, some people went into this crisis with more stress than others.

Without adequate interventions, acute stress can become chronic and can feel overwhelming. This can lead to physical or psychological manifestations, with feelings of anxiety a common condition.

Variations in hormones or neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine can also affect how we respond to stress. And a lack of adequate sleep and exposure to various lifestyle and environmental factors can also impact our total stress load.

Some people have developed behavioural and psychological coping mechanisms to manage their stress levels, while others use exercise or meditation to keep their stress levels in check. Often, a combined approach is most effective.

A natural stress reliever

Various mood-enhancing supplements are available off the shelf, with CBD emerging as one of the more effective and research-backed options.

CBD can help to reduce anxiousness by improving endocannabinoid system function, which increases natural cannabinoid production. These compounds then bind with endocannabinoid receptors (there are two types – CB1 and CB2) in our body.

Specifically, it is CBD’s effect on CB1 receptors that can positively impact on our overall mental wellbeing. These receptors are located in the brain and are associated with emotions, mood and pain, among others.

When cannabinoids bind with these receptors, they can calm the mind, promote better sleep, and reduce anxiety. In addition, CBD can increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls mood, while also promoting neural regeneration, which creates new cells and tissue to repair a damaged nervous system. As such, CBD is already commonly used to treat restlessness, sleeplessness and anxiousness.

Scientific support

While more research is needed on the long-term benefits of CBD oil for anxiety, initial studies suggest it is effective.

A 2011 study* published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology looked at how CBD could help people suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD). The researchers simulated public speaking tests and compared performances between participants with SAD and healthy individuals. Those who received CBD oil before the test experienced significantly lower anxiety levels.

Similar results emerged from a 2015 study** published in the Neurotherapeutics journal, which stated that “current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.”

Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) affirmed the therapeutic efficacy of CBD to reduce anxiety and stress.

During a presentation to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control in 2015, NIDA’s director explained that a range of animal models demonstrate how CBD can reduce “both behavioral and physiological measures of stress and anxiety” and that “CBD has shown efficacy in small human laboratory and clinical trials.”

Your CBD options

If you are one of the many South Africans who are experiencing heightened feelings of uncertainty, stress and anxiety at this time, consider using a CBD product to help you cope.

Dis-Chem Pharmacies was among the first commercial retailers to stock CBD oils and other related products. You can buy various quality and compliant products in stores or online.

Options include oils, tinctures or capsules. CBD oil is made by mixing a CBD extract into a base like hemp seed oil or alcohol, which you can hold under your tongue where it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. You can also take a dose in capsule form, as edible product or drink it in a tea.

If your anxiety persists or you start to experience feelings of depression, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). Visit the organisation’s website at for information on how to cope with mental health pressures during lockdown.

You can call the Cipla SADAG 24-hour mental health helpline on 0800 456 789 or via WhatsApp on 076 882 2775 between 9am – 5pm.


*Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 May; 36(6): 1219–1226. Published online 2011 Feb 9.

**Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct; 12(4): 825–836. Published online 2015 Sep 4.